Close Ranks - To advance to a radical second phase of our Democratic Revolution
2014 May Day statement as delivered by General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande
We mark May Day 2014 at a critical moment in our country`s history. We have just celebrated 20-years since our 1994 democratic breakthrough. Next Wednesday, May 7th we will be going to the polls to elect national and provincial legislatures to usher in the fifth ANC-led administration.
This is not a time for working class complacency. This is not a time for distracting divisions amongst ourselves. The organised working class must be active and present on all of the key battle-fields of the day. This May Day 2014 the SACP is calling on the South African working class to close ranks in order:
To unite to defend working class gains and the unity of COSATU;
To ensure an overwhelming ANC-alliance election victory on May 7th;
To take forward the struggle for a radical second phase of the national democratic revolution.
These three tasks are inter-connected. They are mutually dependent:
Unless we embark on a radical second phase of our revolution, crisis levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality will continue. They will place impossible strains on the trade union movement, threatening all the gains that we have made.
An ANC and alliance that is weakened electorally will lack the confidence and unity to drive forward with a radical second phase. Without a united, militant and independent COSATU within the alliance, the ability of a new ANC-led government to press ahead with radical transformation will be compromised.
But likewise a union movement that stands aloof from the political battlefields will simply abandon that space to its bourgeois class enemies.
That is why, as the SACP we say that the order of the day is: CLOSE RANKS!
Let us close ranks to celebrate collectively our 20-year track record
As we mark 20-years of democracy in SA, let us remember together the important working class victories we have collectively achieved over these two decades.
Amongst other things, we have entrenched within our constitution critical labour and socio economic rights, and we have passed many progressive pro-worker laws. There have been major gains in social grants, housing, electrification, and much more. These things didn`t just descend from heaven. They didn`t just happen. They were only possible in part because of the powerful role that the trade union movement played not just AFTER 1994 - but also long BEFORE.
These advances have been made, consolidated and defended by the ongoing unity in action of our Alliance, and by the organised working class under the umbrella of COSATU.
But these advances are under constant threat from the capitalist system, and from opposition parties like the DA which nowadays suddenly and opportunistically praise the administrations of former presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki - as if the DA ever voted for those governments.
Therefore, let us also close ranks to celebrate together our achievements over these past five years
Working with the ANC-led government we have rescued the auto sector in SA through public investment of R22bn in 183 projects, preserving 46,000 jobs and adding 9850 more jobs in the midst of the worst global capitalist crisis since the 1930s.
Working with the ANC-led government we have had important interventions in other industrial sectors including clothing and textiles, imposing a 75 percent local procurement requirement on the public sector.
In the past 5 years, we have driven an economic and social infrastructure programme, committing R1-trillion of public spending as a key counter-cyclical intervention in the midst of the global economic crisis.
Together, through government and as a result of our campaigns, we have ensured the removal of adverse credit information, which came into effect a month ago, impacting on 10 million South Africans suffocated by mashonisas and high bank charges
Together, in the face of DA opposition, we have re-opened the lodgement of land claims, to address the plight of millions of the landless and land hungry
Together, over the past five years, we have ensured work opportunities for 4,5million unemployed South Africans through the Expanded Public Works and Community Work programmes;
We have opened the doors of higher learning to hundreds of thousands more children of the working class with a trebling of the National Students Financial Scheme from R3,1bn in 2009 to the current R9,6bn.
But these were not gains achieved on auto-pilot. They are not gains won by working class absenteeism, or by spoilt ballots, or by narrow anti-government oppositionism.
Vote ANC, but don`t vote blank cheque!
The SACP will never call on the working class to vote once every few years, and then relax, leaving it to government. The reason is simple - the state is a contested reality. It`s a CLASS contested reality. All of the above gains were won and need to be defended both from within and from outside of the state.
Without a united left, without a strong and united labour movement these advances will be pushed back. Without the left contesting inside of the state, advances will not be made - we will simply leave the space open to others, and especially to a bourgeoisie that never sleeps in its attempts to hijack our democracy, to infiltrate, seduce, corrupt and roll-back the state.
The working class must remain active and vigilant. Those we send into Parliament and into government must be held to their mandate. They must report back to their constituencies and to the working class. This is not a way to weaken these comrades, it`s to strengthen their hand in their responsibilities in legislatures, in parliament, in government itself.
Let us close ranks to take forward the struggle for a radical second phase of the NDR
Let us close ranks to ensure an intensified struggle to address the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Despite important advances since 1994, our economy remains based primarily on the export of minerals, and the domination of the mining and banking sectors.
Unemployment was already at an outrageous level before the ongoing global capitalist crisis that began in 2007. Today unemployment stands at a massive 35%.
Extreme poverty persists, afflicting millions of unemployed and even employed workers in an intrinsically low-wage economy. Poverty leads to hunger - 10 million South Africans do not have adequate access to food.
Inequality remains deep-seated. 50% of the population live on 8% of national income in SA, while the top 5% of earners earn 30 times more than the bottom 5%.The share of workers in national income declined from 55% in 2000 to below 50% at present. This is `reverse redistribution from the poor to the rich`.
Why do we have these problems? The DA and the commercial media blame the ANC-led government and trade unions. They are, of course, wrong. It`s the unchanged, persisting semi-colonial character of monopoly capital in SA that underpins the reproduction of crisis levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
This is the context in which we must close ranks, unite and take forward the struggle for a radical second phase of the democratic transformation of our society. By this we mean, amongst other things, a fundamental transformation of the structure of the economy, moving it away from its domination by the mining/finance/energy complex to re-industrialisation, building a strong manufacturing sector in South Africa and across our continent.
As part of the struggle to ensure radical transformation, the SACP stands fully behind COSATU in the struggle for:
A new income and wage policy focused on addressing poverty and inequalities;
A comprehensive social security system and a rejection of piecemeal approaches;
The aligning of the mandate of Treasury and the Reserve Bank to the agenda of a radical economic transformation;
Measures to ensure beneficiation of our natural resources;
The channeling of retirement funds towards investment including building infrastructure where workers live;
Comprehensive land reform to reverse the legacy of rural and urban racialised spaces.
Let us close ranks to fight the scourge of corruption
Our ANC-alliance electoral manifesto advances important interventions to fight corruption. Let us pledge to ensure that we do indeed stick to these manifesto commitments that include:
Action against companies involved in bid rigging
The prohibition on public servants and public representatives from doing business with the state
A centralised process to adjudicate major state tenders
All corrupt officials to be made individually liable for losses incurred to the state as a result of their corrupt actions
The strengthening of corruption fighting agencies.
But let us not fall into an opposition trap
To oppose corruption without fear or favour is not to be oppositionist - it is the best form of supporting the ANC government.
To speak up against police brutality, where it occurs, is not to oppose the ANC-led government or the police service - it`s the best way of ensuring that we help to transform the state in line with ANC alliance policies.
To mobilise against incompetence, delivery failures and neglect of working class communities and to seek actively to correct these problems - does not have to be oppositionist. In fact it`s an act of solidarity with and defence of the core principles of our ANC-led movement.
The difference between us and the opposition is that we oppose corruption, incompetence and failures in order to CORRECT them - in order to deepen our democracy, to defend and consolidate a strong developmental state.
The opposition raises these things not to correct them, but to score cheap political points, and above all, to sow demoralisation about the public sector, to roll back the state. They want to displace the role of the public sector with their own dog-eats-dog private capitalist market.
The capitalist bosses can afford private health care - so they don`t need public health-care or an NHI. They can afford private security - so they don`t need an effective police service in their communities. They can afford private schools - so they don`t need public education. They can afford private gyms - so they don`t need community halls and sports fields. They can afford housing mortgages on several, multi-million rand luxury properties- so they don`t need state funded private houses. They can save millions of rands for their retirement - so they happily evade taxation, and disinvest their ill-gotten profits out of our country.
Yes, we must root out corruption in the state - but have you noticed how silent the opposition is about the multi-billion rand theft of public resources by the big private construction companies? Have you noticed how quickly they have forgotten the role of the bread cartel in literally stealing bread out of the mouths of the poor? Have you heard them campaigning against tax evasion and the illegal export of capital out of our country.
Their campaign against corruption is not directed AT corruption - it is directed against the very idea of a developmental public sector.
On May 7 - let us teach this DA, the arrogant party of monopoly capital and minority privilege a powerful lesson
We call on the working class to deliver a decisive electoral defeat on the DA:
A party that opposed farmworkers minimum wage being raised from R65 a day
A party that supports labour brokers
A party that wants to roll back hard-won labour market legislation in favour of a "flexible labour market";
A party that portrays COSATU as the enemy, and marches on its head-office
A party of hypocrisy that speaks out of two sides of its mouth on black economic empowerment and on land reform, a party that fudges its silent approval of the Zionist apartheid wall in Palestine.
A party that is seeking to disguise its conservative minority white electoral machine and its neo-liberal agenda behind parachuted black faces and a newly discovered support for ANC presidents of the past.
We call on the working class - Come out in your large numbers to deliver a massive electoral blow to this party of big capital and white privilege. Electoral abstenteeism simply plays into the hands of this retrograde anti-worker party.
On May 7 - let us also deal a decisive electoral blow against the EFF - the party led by the most corrupt tenderpreneurs
Workers are not fooled by these loud-mouthed demagogues, these tenderpreneurs in red berets. They have never done an honest day`s work, so where do they get their fancy cars, their Breitling watches? Where do they get their campaign funding? Africa and the world have seen this kind of clowning before. But it is a mistake to just laugh it off - the Hitlers and Mussolinis rose to prominence demagogically sprouting "socialism", and then butchering the working class when in power.
The EFF practices the same kind of demagogy that we are seeing playing itself out on the platinum belt at present. The EFF like AMCU hijacks real grievances but for entirely self-serving leadership purposes. Wild promises are made for which there is no capacity to deliver leading inevitably to the crushing defeat of gullible followers. A second slow bleeding Marikana tragedy is now playing itself out on the platinum belt.
For all these reasons, we urge workers to come out in their overwhelming numbers to defeat anti-worker right-wing formations - whether they are cloaked in blue or red guises.
Without a strong and independent SACP, without a militant and independent COSATU, and without a revolutionary working class SACP/COSATU axis, electoral promises can be rolled back and nullified by the unceasing class war waged by the capitalist class. Without vigilance and strong organisation our own formations can be hijacked.
There is much more to be done! Let us close ranks! Let us roll back monopoly capital! Let us deal decisively with corruption! Let us defeat anti-working class forces!
FORWARD TO AN OVERWHELMING ANC-ALLIANCE ELECTORAL VICTORY!
FORWARD TO A RADICAL SECOND PHASE OF THE DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION!